CERT-In, the Indian cyber security sleuths, have blocked many portals related with QNet, including QNetIndia.in and QNet.net used by the MLM operator for all of its transactions
The Computer Emergency Response Team India (CERT-In) has blocked several websites of QNet, the multi-level marketing (MLM) operator, including QNetIndia.in, the portal used by its agents for all transactions. Even QNet's main international portal www.qnet.net, which is used for financial transactions, is among several portals blocked by the CERT-In related with the MLM operator.
This follows an order from the 47th Esplanade Court in Mumbai. Earlier, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police, which is probing the multi-crore MLM scam, requested the CERT-In to block websites related with QNet. However, there was no response. After waiting for four months, the EOW finally requested the Court to pass directions for blocking websites of QNet.
An official from CERT-In, who does not want to be named, has confirmed over phone, the blocking of sites related with Qnet. He, however, declined to provide details of domains that are blocked. CERT-In is the nodal agency to combat hacking, phishing and to fortify security-related defences of the Indian Internet domain.
UPDATE: In a release issued on 29th May, Vihaan Direct Selling (India), the franchisee of direct marketing company QNet, said it has filed a petition in Sessions Court challenging the blocking of its three web sites by the CERT-In on the orders of a Magistrate. Vihaan, in the statement also alleged that the Magistrate “failed to appreciate the fact that the impact of the order is like giving punishment before deciding whether the company committed any offence". It accepted that the sites www.questnet.net, www.qnetindia.in and www.qnet-india.com that have been blocked are the company’s e-commerce lifelines.
QNetIndia.in is the registered portal of Vihaan Direct Selling Pvt Ltd that carries the QNet brand name in the country. Michael Ferreira, former World Billiards Champion and Padma Bhushan awardee, owns 80% stake in Vihaan Direct Selling with Malcolm N Desai holding the rest. Ferreira is already under the scanner of investigation agencies.
Earlier, in February, Enforcement Directorate (ED) had registered a case in the Rs425 crore QNet scam for money laundering
. The ED has named the multi-level marketing (MLM) company QNet Ltd from Hong Kong, its official franchisee Vihaan Direct Selling, Vijay Eswaran, the founder of QI group and three other independent representatives (IRs) of QNet from Mumbai. In a media statement, QNet, however, had described the money-laundering probe by ED against it as 'allegations that are preposterous and completely baseless'.
The EOW of the Mumbai Police, which is also probing the MLM fraud, had so far arrested nine team leaders of QNet for allegedly duping investors by offering to sell products such as magnetic disks, herbal products and holiday schemes through fraudulent practices. The accused have been charged with cheating and forgery under relevant sections of the Prize, Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978.
For weeks, former world billiards champion Ferreira avoided appearing before the EOW until a Mumbai court hearing his anticipatory bail application asked him to present himself before the police by 27th January. On 31st January, the Session Court extended till 17th February the interim protection from arrest granted to Ferreira in the QNet scam. He however, has been asked to attend EOW offices as and when required besides obtaining prior permission from the Court before going abroad.
The complainant, Gurupreet Singh Anand, a computer consultant from Lokhandawala, Andheri in his first information report (FIR) before the EOW stated that his wife was duped for Rs30,000 by some people who had introduced themselves as the independent representatives (IRs) of QNet. Anand told the police, “They (IRs) had said that one of the bio-products my wife bought could be used to treat my 12-year-old son's brain-related diseases.”
As reported by Moneylife, QuestNet and GoldQuest (previous avatars of QNet), the MLM companies that had shut shop in 2009 following police action are back with a bigger bang. They now call themselves as QNet and are thriving in an environment where tens of thousands of Ponzis and MLM companies are able to lure people into believing that they have the formula to instant riches and a high growth career.
Although, Vihaan Direct Selling is the official franchisee of QNet in India, Suresh Thimiri, who is often touted as QNet India's chief executive and had denied any relationship with QNet or any of its representatives, owns the 'QNet' trademark in India through his company Transview Enterprises Pvt Ltd!
Transview Enterprises is an associate company of Vihaan Direct Selling that handles QNet's MLM operations in India since 14 April 2012. Vihaan Direct Selling is a direct selling agent of QNet and had done large financial transactions with Mr Thimiri's company Transview.
Another interesting aspect in the whole episode is all top officials (?) of QNet India do not want to reveal their identity and remain hidden. Moneylife repeatedly sent emails to the company's official PR agencies and also some officials from its parent QI group but there is no information forthcoming.